Category Archives: Linda Cole

Do Dogs and Cats Have Taste Buds?

taste micoloBy Linda Cole

When considering what a dog is willing to woof down, you can’t help but wonder if they actually taste what they eat. It doesn’t seem to matter to a dog whether it’s their favorite CANIDAE meal, a bug or an ice cube. My dogs will eat everything with gusto as if it had been prepared by a top chef. My cats hunt flies, spiders and other small creatures, and occasionally an overlooked dust bunny. The senses of dogs and cats are far superior to ours, but do they have taste buds, and can they really taste what they eat?

Taste buds play an ingenious role in human and animal survival and are designed to help keep us alive. Without the ability to distinguish between certain tastes it would be difficult to know which foods are safe to eat and which ones to avoid. Something that tastes bad usually means it could be harmful to swallow, and a good taste would be an indication it is safe to consume. All vertebrates have taste buds on their tongues, but how many a species has depends on which tastes they need to be able to detect to stay safe. Humans have about 10,000 taste buds, whereas dogs only have around 1,700 and cats have approximately 470. Because herbivores, like cows for example, dine on a large variety of plants, more taste buds are needed to help them tell if a plant is toxic or beneficial for them to eat.

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5 Dog-Friendly National Parks

national parks fpat murrayBy Linda Cole

There are 58 national parks in the United States, and each one has its own awe-inspiring beauty and wildlife to enjoy. Last year, almost 70 million people visited a national park. If you are planning a trip that includes your dog and would like to take in the views of our national parks, some do allow limited access for canines, and five are considered to be “dog friendly.”

Pet access varies from park to park. Park superintendents have the authority to adjust pet policies at their specific park to ensure that the land, wildlife and the pets are protected. It’s important to plan ahead before heading out to a national park, historic site or seashore, and do research to make sure pets are welcome. Many national parks only allow dogs in designated areas like roads and developed areas. Most trails or wilderness areas are off limits to canines. Finding lodging for you and your pet can also be a challenge, but some parks do have kennels for pets. The only exception are service dogs who are allowed to go everywhere with their owner.

You can find current information about pet policies, entry fees, park hours and scheduled events at national parks on the National Park Service website. For pet policies, go to the search bar in the upper right hand corner where it says “find a park.” Click on a state and scroll down to find the national park you’re interested in. On the left side, click on plan your visit, click basic information, scroll down and click pets. You will also notice a red box for park alerts such as weather updates and construction projects.

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Home Remodeling Hazards for Pets

remodel jenniferBy Linda Cole

Many homeowners like to spruce up their house with fresh paint, needed repairs or a complete makeover for an outdated room. However, homes with pets need to be especially vigilant when the power tools and paint brushes come out. Regardless of whether you do it yourself or hire someone, there are home remodeling hazards for pets that you need to be aware of.

Lead Paint

It’s common to find lead paint in homes built before 1978, and many homeowners aren’t aware of it. Lead can be found in linoleum, old putty around windows, or old paint covered over with non-leaded paint, wallpaper or paneling. When lead paint is scraped off or sanded, it turns into dust and contaminates the air. This dust can put pets at risk of lead poisoning when they ingest the dust while grooming. Pets can be exposed to lead by chewing on woodwork or ingesting flakes or chips of paint that have fallen off.

If you aren’t sure whether the existing paint is lead based, testing kits can be found at many home repair stores; it’s recommended to test before beginning any scraping or sanding. If you find lead paint in your home, it’s best to talk to a professional who is knowledgeable about lead-based paints before continuing.

Paints, Stains and Varnishes

Most products for inside use are water based and not as toxic to pets, but they can cause diarrhea and vomiting. If your dog or cat gets a water based product on them, it can be washed off with warm water and dish soap. If you’re dealing with an oil-based product, keep your pet from licking it off and wait for it to dry. When it’s dry, use scissors or clippers to cut it from their coat. Paint thinner, turpentine or mineral spirits should never be used to remove paint, stains or varnishes from your pet’s coat, because they can cause painful chemical burns. Keep pets away from opened cans of these products.

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Seven Inventions Inspired by Cats and Dogs

inventions cat eyeBy Linda Cole

It takes a creative mind to find solutions that can make daily life easier or better. When there’s a need, someone can usually find a solution – often times in unlikely ways. Sometimes a creative invention is inspired by dogs and cats.

“Cat Eye” Road Reflectors

On a foggy night in 1933, Percy Shaw was driving home along a dangerous stretch of road with a perilous, sheer drop off on one side. Drivers knew where the edge of the road was when their headlights reflected off of tram tracks, but the tracks had been removed for repairs. As Shaw strained to see through the blackness, his headlights caught the eyes of a cat sitting on a fence. As he pondered the possibility of replicating how a cat’s eyes reflect light, an idea took shape to make dark and dangerous roads safer for drivers. Shaw began manufacturing reflective road markers in 1935. Today reflective “cat eye” road studs are incorporated in roads worldwide.

Safety Thumbtack

Biomimicry is science that studies nature to find solutions to problems. The thumbtack was invented in 1903 by Mick Clay, an English inventor. Looking to nature to find a better way to construct the tack, New York design engineer Toshi Fukaya wanted to improve the thumbtack to avoid pricked fingers when pulling one out of the box. His inspiration – the sheath of a cat’s claw. The new innovation in thumbtacks has a hollow silicone sheath that holds the pin inside until it’s pressed into a board, wall or other hard surface. When the tack is removed, the pin withdraws back into the silicone sheath.

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8 Conditions That Can Cause Your Dog to Cough

By Linda Cole

Coughing is usually a clue we have a cold or the flu, and it’s also how we clear our throat. For humans, a cough may sometimes indicate a serious medical issue. Dogs can also develop a cough that could be nothing to worry about, or an indication of medical issues you need to be aware of. If your dog has a persistent cough, call your vet.

Kennel Cough

Although highly contagious, most dogs who develop kennel cough will recover on their own. However, it can take up to three weeks depending on your pet’s age and health. Older dogs, puppies and canines with a depressed immune system can take longer to recover. Your dog can be infected if he has spent time in a kennel, at the groomer, a dog park, a training class or anywhere there’s multiple dogs. A kennel cough is characterized by a deep, dry honking or hacking cough that might cause gagging afterwards. It gets worse when he’s playing or running. If his cough persists or worsens, call your vet. A serious bout of kennel cough can lead to pneumonia.

Sore Throat

Like us, dogs can get a sore throat. It’s rare, but canines can also have tonsillitis. If you notice your dog licking his lips and making swallowing motions, and he has a high pitched gagging cough, it could be a sign of a sore throat, or an indication he has something caught in his throat.

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Can Laundry Pods Harm Your Pet?

pods shelleyBy Linda Cole

Today’s technology allows for new advances in many areas of our lives. Manufacturers often develop innovative products that make everyday tasks easier and more efficient for us. As responsible pet owners, we have to be aware of changes in cleaning products to make sure they are safe for use around our animals.

Laundry pods are small, single-use detergent packets in round or rectangle shapes. Shortly after pods hit the market, warnings were issued to keep them away from young children because the pods looked like candy and kids were putting them in their mouth. Since 2012, poison control centers have received thousands of pod-related reports regarding young children. But what about our pets? Do laundry pods pose a danger to our furry friends as well? Yes, they can. In 2013, detergent pods were on the ASPCA’s top ten toxin list.

Most pet owners know that certain household cleaners can be toxic to their dog or cat and take precautions to store these items where their pet can’t find them. Landry detergents, however, are more often stored in a convenient, unsecured place by the washer, or in a laundry basket or bag if you have to go to a laundromat. This makes it easier for pets to find them.

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